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5 Things: November 15th, 2019

Mail Order season is suddenly upon us. The third-floor DeWitt-Seitz office is already primed for near-optimal success is preparing hundreds of skillfully packed boxes. You know what? This is my first Thing™ this week. Let’s play it again.

Mail Order season is suddenly upon us.

The third-floor DeWitt-Seitz office is already primed for near-optimal success is preparing hundreds of skillfully packed boxes. Any surface that could possibly be repurposed as a work surface is or soon will be.

Storage space is at an all-time premium—we’ve even rented spaces in Proctor, MN and Superior, WI to keep from overburdening our DeWitt-Seitz location.

We’ve brought in seasonal reinforcements, who will be training in on Sunday the 17th, and making our Mail Order Director, Andy’s life way less stressful. It’s a whole thing.

We’ve updated our shipping policies and providers so that we’ll hopefully be turning a profit (albeit small) on each package shipped, rather than losing a little bit of money on each. For our small, family-owned, community-oriented business, this is great news.

We met with our publisher.

On Tuesday, a cohort of those of us involved in producing the first Northern Waters Smokehaus cookbook took a field trip to the University of Minnesota Press‘s office in Minneapolis. We’re honored and excited to be working with the press, and the feeling seems to be mutual. Icing on the cake: the building in which they’re located has very comfortable conference room chairs.

In the wake of that meeting, we’ve developed a plan to methodically comb through the rest of the recipe testing, while polishing the text into something worthy of telling the story of NWS, DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace, and our beloved City and Lake.

While the cookbook itself won’t be hitting shelves any time soon, it’s been 20+ years coming at this point, and it will be a great accomplishment to kick off the next two decades of NWS.

Rush Creek Reserve has returned.

For the uninitiated: RCR is Uplands Cheese Company’s (Dodgeville, WI) Autumn-exclusive, washed rind, raw cow’s milk cheese made with the rich and silky milk that emerges when the cows’ diets shift from Summer pastures to Fall and Winter hay.

The extremely seasonal, small batch cheese is sold in 12oz wheels ($35/wheel) that are intended to be served at room temperature in a single serving. (No worries if you and yours can’t manage that: Just re-package it in its breathable wrap and tuck it in the coldest part of the fridge.)

Maker Andy Hatch has described the cheese as a “savory custard, [which] exudes a very soft, delicate texture with a savory, rich finish likened to cured meat.”

Each wheel of the cheese is hand-wrapped with spruce bark, then aged 60 days before it is shipped off to distributors. For more information on serving—beyond the obvious: serve it on a fine cracker alongside a sparkling or dry white wine—chat with our deli staff.

You don’t want to miss out on this exceptional cheese, and the rest of the delicious offerings—including my personal favorite, the Shepherd’s Way Sogn Tomme—in our grab’n’go case, this holiday season.

The 127th Annual Sandwich Lab is this Sunday night!

On Sunday night at 7 p.m., the best of the best will be assembling to brush up our sandwich-making skills, pitch new sandwich ideas, and just generally have a good time.

Unlike our most recent Sunday night meeting, we’ll be open full business hours (all the way to 6pm) on Sunday. I didn’t realize that there had been so many until we received this official notice from our HR director, Greg:

We’ve smoked a few batches of North Road salmon.

The global salmon market is currently in flux—with causes and effects that extend outside of the purview of this particular blog post—and as a substantial importer of salmon, we strive to continue to bring you responsibly and sustainably sourced Atlantic salmon.

North Road provides huge (we’re talking five-pound filets!) , beautifully marbled salmon sourced from sustainable farms off the coasts of Norway and Scotland, and within the Faroe Islands. The smoked product is melt-in-your-mouth tender and has taken especially well to our brown sugar & salt cure, resulting in some of the best smoked salmon I’ve had the pleasure of eating, even by our stringent standards—especially with dill seasoning.

Currently, we’re only smoking it in small batches and selling it in our deli, alongside our other smoked salmon options. Next time you stop in the deli, ask for a sample and see for yourself, or just buy a big ol’ slab and show all your friends and family.

Thanks for tuning in!

NEXT WEEK ON 5 THINGS™: More about mail order season, a follow-up on Sandwich Lab, an in-depth look at our new enormous standing mixer (described to me as “something out of War of the Worlds”), and more!

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5 Things: October 25th, 2019

October has, thus far, been a whirlwind of activity in Duluth and the DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace. The first three weeks of the month held several conventions and conferences—including the Catalyst Content Festival and Duluth’s first-ever cosplay/comic-convention, DuluCon—which brought new and enthusiastic crowds of out-of-towners to our deli each week.

This week we got our reprieve. The lunch rushes were slower, and there was an abundance of time to deep clean the deli.

A cookbook photo shoot.

Smoked fish was on the menu at this shoot, which included smoked salmon and whitefish, green curry lake trout, lake trout chowder, king salmon candy confit, several smoked fish spreads, and more, beautifully plated on colorful kids plates.

You may already be familiar with our photographic style through our various social media platforms, our blog, and our catalog, but we still have a few tricks up our sleeves, and we’re excited for you to see them.

Who’d have guessed(?)—inclement weather.

Goodbye, Lakewalk

It’s roughly that time of year, when Canal Park, and furthermore the DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace, locks horns once again with the Big Lake. Canal Park all but closed down, any attempts to repair the destroyed Lakewalk were undone, and a handful of our staff, alongside the ever hardworking Oneida crew, fought the ceaseless tide in our basement with brooms and squeegies.

After last year’s flooding, we took a long, hard look at our drainage systems, and last year’s long, hard look paid off, as the drains in our kitchen put in work as well. One day, Nature will reclaim it all, but until then, we’re grateful for the folks in the trenches.

The Early Bird Sale began on our website.

October 24th through November 14th, you’ll receive 15% off every cart before shipping costs are applied. Yes, that is 15% off of virtually everything we sell online, all for the low, low cost of typing earlybird19 into the coupon code box. The offer cannot be combined with other coupons, but the code is reusable for the duration of the sale.

Patricia made smoked molasses cookies!

Since she began working with us, Patricia has been talking about making smoked molasses cookies, and it has finally come to fruition. After one very controversial batch, which some deemed delicious, and others far too smoky—it broke your blogger’s heart to criticize Patricia’s work for the first time—she has locked in that perfect balance of rich sweetness and smokiness in her latest batch. They’re available in our deli for $2 per cookie, and are an option for your box lunches.

When she’s not hard at work supplying all of our cookies—chocolate chip, ginger, coconut macaroons, carrot cake & cream cheese sandwiches, and now smoked molasses—Patricia still knocks out just shy of a dozen pasties each week, toasty cheddar crackers, and the occasional experiment. What a gem!

We held it down at Duluth Pack’s Ladies Night.

Flo prepared a grip of All-Season fillet platters for the 6th Annual Ladies Night event, and Jacob covered the event, which featured Wild State Cider, a raffle, and plenty of interaction with locals who had somehow never known our deli was right next door. All-in-all, Jacob deemed it one heck of a party and a success for our business.

In conclusion if you have been holding out on a trip to NWS because of the long lines and chaos, there’s no time like the present to stop in. Things should be calm until mid-November, when the holiday fun starts. This is also the last weekend to try the G.O.A.T., our first smoked andouille sandwich, and final 2019 Sandwich Lab special, which leaves our menu November 1st.

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5 Ways NWS Can Help You Win the Holidays

First of all, welcome back to 5 Things™, returning on an atypical day after an atypical absence. We’re right on the cusp of my favorite holiday, Halloween, so I’m feeling festive. This week’s edition is a special one, focused on our upcoming holiday mail order season, and the many ways in which Northern Waters Smokehaus can help you “win” the holidays.

It’s an audacious claim to make, but I’m somewhat certain that by the end of this article, you’ll have a clear advantage over your holiday competition. No longer will your guests be “saving room” for more exciting meals to come, leaving you with an abundance of leftovers to deal with in the following weeks, and if they do, hey, you’ve got Smokehaus leftovers.

Here we go, in no particular order:

1. Roast a whole hunk of meat.

We’ve got options: our smoked Berkshire ham, smoke-roasted porketta, maple-sage smoked Ferndale Market turkey breast, and smoked pastrami are all guaranteed to launch your guests’ taste buds right into the stratosphere, and preparation is simple enough: braise alongside some choice seasonal vegetables, allow to cool, carve to perfection, profit.

Here’s a handful of ideas to get the brain moving:

While corned beef and bison are not currently available via mail order, our pastrami would make a great substitution in this recipe.

2. Catch “The Worm” with our Early Bird sale.

Oof. That’s a gross one, but, low-hanging fruit that it was, I had to go for it. Would it have been better if I’d said, “The Proverbial Worm?” Perhaps.

More about our actual Early Bird sale follows:

October 24th through November 14th, you can take 15% off your cart when ordering online, by entering the coupon code earlybird19 before checkout.

15% off everything is nothing at which to shake a stick, unless you’re shaking that stick with joy. Here are the sales’s details:

  • You can use the code on as many transactions as you like, within the timeframe of the sale.
  • The 15% discount applies on everything except items already affected by another sale, and is applied before shipping costs.
  • The discount cannot be combined with other coupons.
  • As long as you finalize the transaction within the sale’s timeframe, you can have your items shipped whenever you like. Perfect for planning your holidays ahead of schedule.

3. Read some of our previous blog posts about NWS and the holidays.

While I’ve got some great ideas for improving the proverbial wheel, now isn’t the time to re-invent it.

Here’s a handful of links to previous years’ writings about NWS Mail Order and the holiday season.

4. Memorize these cutoff dates (or bookmark this page).

For those who prefer to wait until the last minute, whether it’s waiting for that holiday bonus to clear, or simply living on the edge, these are the hard-and-fast cutoff dates you ought to remember:

Tuesday, November 19th – Last day to order to receive before Thanksgiving. Wednesday, November 20th for Minnesota
residential shipping addresses.

Tuesday, December 17th – Last day to order to receive before Christmas. Wednesday, December 18th for Minnesota
residential shipping addresses.
Wednesday, December 18th – Last Day of Shipping before Christmas AND New Year’s Eve


Tuesday, December 24th through Sunday, January 5th 2020 – NO SHIPPING! Mail Order Office closed for the holidays.
Monday, January 6th 2020 – Normal shipping schedule resumes.

Keep these dates in mind and you’ll have your favorite NWS goodies on hand, on time

5. Don’t forget about these upcoming holiday deals:

Pigs in Space is our special Cyber Monday deal. From 12 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. (00:00:01 – 23:59:59) on Monday, December 2nd, Minnesota and Midwest orders will have free shipping, and continental shipping will be half-price.

Holiday Gift Card Frenzy is the working title I’m giving to our annual gift card sale. For every $100 of gift cards purchased—whether $10×10, $20×5, $50×2, $100×1, or some combination of the like—you’ll receive a bonus $20 gift card, and there’s no known limit on how many bonus gift cards you can accumulate. 20% back for yourself, or to spread the gifting a little further, is pretty great. Offer available in-store only (whether you wait in line, or order in-advance for pickup), online gift cards do not apply.

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5 Things: August 23rd, 2019

Summer isn’t over yet, but the morning air is crisper, and the pace of life is slowing down. The tall ships have come and gone, the flood of students is just beginning to trickle into town. Walking past our deli, it may not always appear this way, but life is on the calmer side, at least for a few weeks.

But that doesn’t mean life at the Smokehaus is any less interesting.

We have new faces in the deli.

Faces.

For those keeping score, over the past few weeks we’ve steadily mentioned that we’re hiring, and as a result, we already have a handful of new staff training in. I’d caution the world to be patient with and/or kind to them, since they are new and the pace of our little deli can be overwhelming, but they’re already performing like seasoned veterans.

Labor Day Mail Order Sale.

Labor Daybor

Beginning August 26th, we’re running a mail order special: 20% off your cart (online only) when you enter the discount code bluecollar. The sale runs through Labor Day (9/2). However, if you want your food to arrive in time for Labor Day weekend celebrations, place your order by Tuesday, August 27th—those orders will be shipped on Wednesday (8/28) and arrive by Friday (8/30). Otherwise, you can schedule your shipping date for whenever you’d like. Pro-tip: this is the best mail order sale of the year, so if you know exactly what you want to order for Fall and Winter holidays, this is a good time to do it.

Speaking of Mail Order, here’s our updated holiday shipping schedule.

Bookmark this page as an easy reference when ordering for holidays, and you’ll be guaranteed to get your orders at the perfect interval for gifting or entertaining. Become the master of your own destiny; know for yourself exactly when to place orders, and when to have them shipped for best results.

Monday night D&D returns to The Midnight Axe.

Images unrelated.

The Summer season of our unofficial office Dungeons and Dragons crew is coming to a close with a short adventure tying us back into our ongoing campaign, right before our DM heads on an extended vacation, leaving us to fend for ourselves.

This Summer, we set our main campaign to the side, in order to focus on a handful of smaller, unconnected adventures. Not only did this allow each of us to test out a number of character ideas, and novel settings, but it also gave us time to miss our main characters, as distance does indeed make the heart grow fonder.

“The Midnight Axe” is the name—generated by rolling percentile dice against a chart of fantasy party names—of our primary party. When we’re not embroiled in a scavenger hunt for a cache of money embezzled long ago from the treasury of the Manhattan-esque city of Waterdeep, and avoiding/averting the frequent pitfalls of gangs whose rivalry we earned incidentally, we’re just trying to earn a mostly-honest living running a tavern called The Malt Solstice. However, some way or another, we’ve gained some notoriety as adventurers—and it’s drawn some public interest.

In our session on Monday, Harrison (our Dungeon Master) presented each of us with three characters (shout out to Harrison for developing fifteen character concepts in a single weekend) who are looking, for one reason or another, to join our ranks. This coming session, we’ll be embarking on a mission with our chosen secondary characters to discover their strengths, and how they’ll fit into our adventuring party. Perhaps they’ll join us on the front lines, perhaps they’ll stick around headquarters and craft potions nonstop, perhaps they’ll alternate between venturing into the Undermountain (where our campaign has us heading) and providing security at the Malt Solstice. Only time will tell.

Character biographies forthcoming.

Patricia’s corner.

Let’s get personal.

Let’s get one thing straight: Any week that there are not five immediately obvious other Things™ to talk about, Patricia is going to get a nod. Ever since she moved to full-time baking, we’ve become accustomed to carrying an assortment of cookies—chocolate chip, ginger, peanut butter curry, carrot cake cookie sandwiches with honey cream cheese, coconut macaroons (which are gluten-free*), and most recently chocolate walnut flourless cookies (also gluten-free**)—pasties, cheddar crackers, savory scones, and even personal pizzas. This week’s pizza featured smoked bacon, blackberries, and chèvre, and her pizza sauce, in general, is composed of the odds-and-ends bits of tomato from the morning’s prep.

That’s honestly one of the best things about Patricia’s approach to baking for NWS—by utilizing more parts of the foods we use, we generate substantially less waste as a business, which improves our model of sustainability (not to mention profitability) overall, and in the process, we end up with these delicious, fan-favorite items in our deli

*/**: It’s worth noting that these are not baked in a completely gluten-free environment. In terms of ingredients, they are entirely gluten-free, but those at serious risk should be aware of the chance of cross-contamination.

I got to observe production of Country Pâté.

Observe.

Compiling recipes for the cookbook is great fun, but not without its challenges. In addition to needing to massively scale down some recipes—we’re operating under the assumption you’ll never need to make one-hundred pounds of Smoked Whitefish at home—other recipes in our own workbooks lack, well, instruction.

Country pâté, for example, is just a list of ingredients, which our skilled production crew understands how to massage—eh, grind—into the savory loaves we all love. Brandt happened to catch me during a fresh air break yesterday to let me know he was making it.

Seeing that static list of ingredients—browned bacon and onion; Berkshire liver, pork and back fat; brandy; cure; rosemary and thyme; etc.—ground once and then half again (to achieve the preferred inconsistent consistency), mixed with what could reasonably pass as TLC, and packaged to chill overnight before being packed into loaf pans and slow-cooked, was enlightening, and proof that someone needs to write down those steps, because there’s a lot of them. If not for our own benefit, certainly for the book.

Once again, I’d like to give a public shout-out to the smokers for the sheer volume of high-quality product they consistently churn out.

I’ve done it again. Yesterday, I stared at my week’s notes and wondered, “which five Things™ am I going to write about? Are there five Things™ that may intrigue or inspire our readership(?),” and here I am, writing Thing™ six-and-a-half. I hope you’re happy.

We hope to see you in our deli this weekend—whether you wait in line, or skip the line via pickup —or your name and address in our delivery system. If you’re going to be near Canal Park/Downtown, make sure you bring ear protection, because the Tribute Fest will be rocking hard.

Stay tuned in the next handful of weeks for some new sandwich options—including your blogger’s own contribution to the Sandwich Lab specials—and exciting collaborations.

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NWS HAS A NEW LOYALTY PROGRAM!

Good news, everyone! We’ve finally depleted our inventory of sandwich cards, which means we’ve rolled out our NEW LOYALTY PROGRAM! One free sandwich/salad per ten sandwiches/salads was a pretty sweet deal, but we wanted to shake things up, so we devised a new system to give you more rewards, more frequently.

Introducing the Sandwich Lover Extraordinaire card:

The former sandwich card worked as follows: Each sandwich/salad you purchase earned you one stamp on the card.* Ten stamps earned you one free sandwich/salad.

The new program works as follows: Twenty-one little fish; eighteen red, three blue. Each sandwich/salad you purchase earns you one hole punched red fish. Every six punches along the way, you earn earn the rights to a new prize, which can be redeemed immediately, or at your leisure. When you redeem your reward, we’ll punch a hole in the respective blue fish.

Once you have purchased 18 sandwiches/salads, you’ll have earned all three perks along the way. Maybe you used them as you got them, maybe you redeem all three at once after purchasing that eighteenth sandwich/salad. Maybe you redeem all three at once the next time you come in, or maybe you redeem them individually the next three times you come in. It’s entirely up to you.

We will still honor completed “old” sandwich cards!

If you have filled out a ten-stamped sandwich card during the course of our previous loyalty program, you still get that free sandwich—and the stamps of any incomplete sandwich cards are transferrable to the new loyalty card.

So, what are the prizes?!

After six punches: One free snack stick (“buddy”), based on availability. Whether it’s a Big Jim hatch chile beef stick, a Royale With Cheese bacon-cheeseburger stick, a Smokehaus classic Bison Buddy, or a Smoked Salmon Buddy, you’re in for a treat.

After twelve punches: One free sandwich/salad. We’ve got a handful of options.

After eighteen punches: One free half-pound chunk of Smoked Atlantic Salmon—traditional, cajun, dill, or black pepper & coriander.

Why are you waiting? Start a Sandwich Lover Extraordinaire card today and begin reaping the rewards!

*Sandwich Lab specials—such as the Lake Trout Situation we’re currently running—earn you two punches per unit purchased.

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5 Things: August 9th, 2019

There’s a whole bunch of things going on at the tip of Lake Superior this weekend. Before I get into discussing the week and weekend to come, I’d like to remind you that our pickup and delivery services are a great way to skip the line (except August 11th through 13th), and that Cajun-seasoned cheese curds are back in-stock in our grab & go case.

The Festival of Sail arrives this weekend. The tall ships and an enormous rubber duck will begin showing up today, and will remain in our harbor through Tuesday, August 13th. The Festival officially kicks off on Sunday morning, with a grand parade from 9-11 a.m. In previous years, the draw of this event has effectively doubled the population of our city. And that’s not the only festival taking place this weekend. Friday and Saturday, the 31st annual Bayfront Blues Festival will take up residence in—you guessed it—Bayfront Festival Park. The Blues Fest draws around twenty thousand attendees each year, and consistently features high-caliber blues artists from around the world.

Another Sandwich Lab creation debuted in our deli. The Lake Trout Situation is Jacob’s homage to the classic New England lobster roll and the Jersey Shore. Featuring a smoky, sweet lake trout salad, sliced red cabbage, and wasabi mayo atop a slice of buttery, toasted white bread, this sandwich is served open-faced (for hotdog-style consumption) and garnished with cilantro and crispy smoked pancetta crumbles. It’s available for $10+tax in our deli & via delivery.

The Scavenger Hunt continues. The first week, a participant found the magnet within hours—next to the Observation Park dog park. This week, it was found on the second day—on the back of a sign at the Duluth Farmer’s Market. With three weeks to go, and 7 superfluous clues written so far, I have something special planned for next week, so stay on your toes. The next clue comes out on Monday, August 12th. Follow us on our social media pages and check out the rules here to participate.

Patricia is at it again! This time with vegetarian tofu pasties, in addition to her standard array of cookies, crackers, and pasties. Our baking department, which also boasts two skilled breadmakers in Jerry and Adison (whom I don’t praise enough on this blog, as they have supplied all of our rye, white bread, and ciabatta needs through the Summer), have developed a brilliant selection of high-quality hausmade breads and sweets. I don’t ever want to go back to a world before the Smokehaus had dedicated bakers on-staff.

Did someone say “party?”

We’re having a fish fry! The summer season is hardly coming to a close, but we’re already starting to say goodbye to the seasonal hands on deck, and a handful of other coworkers/friends leaving for school, adventures in new cities, and at least one dream job opportunity. So we’re taking an evening to celebrate, this Sunday, with a small gathering for our staff. Fried whitefish, smoked chicken wings, coleslaw, and crinkle-cut fries are on the menu, and my mouth is already watering two days in advance. Hopefully, the Sunday closing staff will be able to make it out of Canal Park! The deli will be open normal hours—10 a.m. to 6 p.m.—on Sunday.


Now that you’ve read this week’s 5 Things™, go out and have a good rest of your day.

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5 Things: July 19th, 2019

We’re in the dog days of summer—or we might not be—and life at NWS is heating up. Our first Thing™ offers an option for cooling down:

We’ve got White Claw!

I still haven’t tried it*, but this low-calorie, gluten-free, slightly boozy seltzer water has become iconic of Summer 2019. One-hundred percent of planned beach expeditions I have attended this year have featured a cooler half full of White Claw cans. It’s reported to be refreshing and taste quite good. I may or may not have “liked” a meme featuring a can of Hidden Valley Ranch White Claw this morning on the ‘Gram.

We received our first shipment of Grapefruit White Claw this week. Lightly-flavored effervescent beverages (affectionately known as “day beers”) are a longtime staple of life at NWS—a former deli manager once challenged herself to drink twelve cans of LaCroix in a shift, and the grapefruit and lime varieties of Topo Chico sparkling water have become a fast favorite for staff and patrons alike—so it follows quite naturally that our early forays into hard beverages would include what I am now exclusively calling “nighttime day beers” in my head.

*By the time this blog is posted, I may have consumed at least one can of White Claw.**

**Leif and I drank our first nighttime day beers together on the patio after work.

Heirloom tomato season is in full effect!

Every July, we purchase a beautiful bounty of locally-grown heirloom tomatoes from Hammarlund Nursery in Esko, MN. Ken Hammarlund himself brings us dozens of pounds of these delectable tomatoes in weekly increments when the season is in full-swing.

These ‘matos are not only exceptional on the palate, but also come in beautiful colors—bright greens, yellows, and purples, and swirls of all three—so they are remarkably pleasant to prep for the day.

If you’ve ever been on-the-fence about sandwiches with tomatoes, July into the first few weeks of August is a great time to try them.

Waiting for your order on the patio is easier than ever!

We love our small storefront and our home in DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace, but it’s not without its shortcomings. The hallway we share with Lake Avenue Café can become crowded whenever the sandwich queue is even a little backed up.

“Stick around. We’ll call your name when your food is ready,” was essentially the script. Those who wanted to establish themselves at a table on the patio were also given the annoying task of periodically sending an emissary inside to check on the status of their food.

But this has all changed now that we have added a public address system to our patio. We’ll default to calling out names un-amplified in the deli, but if no one comes running, we’ll double-down on the PA.

Grab that spot outside, catch some extra rays of sunshine, experience a bit of leisure while we make your order.

A little bit of Smokehaus lore.

Research and development for our first cookbook has provided a wellspring of insights into the growth of the Smokehaus. A bunch of these tidbits will make their way into the pages of the book, and some of them are going to pop into the 5 Things™ blog now and again.

During a rapid-fire meeting Tuesday morning on our patio, the topic of our salmon seasonings came up. Dill is a no-brainer when it comes to salmon, and a blend of black pepper and coriander bears a strong resemblance to another popular preparation of meat, but what of cajun seasoning?

Our cajun-seasoned smoked Atlantic salmon is a fairly popular item of its own, but unless you arrived at this web address accidentally and have no idea how you got here or how to navigate away from this page, you have probably heard of the Cajun Finn. The sandwich that outsells half of the rest of our menu. 40% of the sentence “I’ll have a Cajun Finn,” which is sometimes 40% of all words said by an individual ordering as part of a group.

Cajun-seasoned smoked salmon, it turns out, was an experiment with a current trend that ended up wildly successful.

Paraphrasing Eric: “People were putting cajun seasoning on everything, so we tried the same thing with smoked salmon, and people loved it.”

That’s a pretty wild innovation to just stumble into, and serendipitous. Who knows where the Smokehaus would be without the cult success of the Cajun Finn? I like to imagine the excellent quality of our food would have carried us to similar heights, but it’s impossible to say.

Two new product features on our blog!

They put me to work this week—alongside work on the cookbook, a handful of press releases, and some updates of our online swag descriptions, I also whipped up a couple of posts about our selection of natural wines with suggested food pairings, and an often overlooked menu item, the fish basket. Since you’re already here, think about checking them out.

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5 Things: July 12th, 2019

5 Things™ is back from vacation. I had the best steak of my life (please pound your steaks thin and marinate them overnight before you ever consider cooking them), my very first experience with escargot, watched a Chicago-sized storm cloud travel over Chicago from a balcony at the epicenter of the cloudburst, and even got a wicked sunburn at a crowded beach, but didn’t manage to churn out a blog. Hopefully you just went about your lives and didn’t miss it too much.

Here’s a handful of things that I’ve learned about life at NWS since I’ve returned.

Andy has stepped into his role as Mail Order director.

I already knew about this one, but you may not have. Shipping our hand-crafted products around the nation is part of the foundation of our business, but the department has been without a leader for a couple months. In practice, perhaps you didn’t even notice, due to our staff’s ability to fill in the gaps.

We interviewed several candidates within our existing staff, and selected Andy to guide the future of this department. Training in as the director of this massive endeavor—December is one of our most profitable months, and that is in large part due to mail order—is no small, short, or easy task, so we wish Andy the best.

Tyler has evolved into his delivery/pickup assistant manager-form.

Tyler, who once told me he didn’t want any responsibility beyond being a good dishwasher—I’m paraphrasing—has now taken on more responsibility, seemingly of his own accord.

The delivery/pickup department, which has been going through its own evolution lately—simultaneously contracting its in-haus delivery hours and range, and expanding its hours and range through third-party delivery services Food Dudes and Bite Squad—welcomes Tyler’s affable leadership.

The Fish Schtick.

“Sandwich Lab” may be one of the most-oft repeated phrases in my blogging life. This month’s Sandwich Lab special (temporary addition to the sandwich menu) is a curious sandwich called the Fish Schtick.

Assembled on a haus ciabatta roll, it is composed of Traditional Smoked Atlantic Salmon, tomato, cornichon pickle, lettuce, mayo, and lemon pepper. It has a bright, complex, yet cohesive harmony of flavors tied together by the smoky goodness of our salmon.

The Fish Schtick accounts for about 2% of our sandwich sales during its time on the menu, which is nothing to shake a schtick at.

The months ahead will feature a Lake Superior Lake Trout-salad sandwich, and a smoked Andouille sausage, chevre, and green apple sandwich. Stay hungry, because all of these Sandwich Lab specials get you two stamps on your sandwich card. Now that’s value!

We have the hardest working production crew in town!

Okay, this may not be strictly true—I didn’t do any research—but hear me out: I checked in with our team of roughly five smokers about their life in the basement, and found out that they’ve been putting in hours—working double shifts, sometimes triples, and the occasional overnight—but that was only after some prying on my part.

Their first answer to my inquiry about life in the basement: “It’s pretty chill!”

How’s that for a winning attitude? This is the energy we need to take with us into the rest of 2019.

We had a span of 11 days that would have blown my mind when I started at NWS.

And I was on vacation the whole time.

When I began working at our humble deli, there was tangible excitement any time our daily sales were above $5,000. I’m pretty sure $9,000 in sales would have merited a pizza party, popping Champagne corks (or vigorously-shaken LaCroix cans), and maybe even some light screaming.

While I was out of town, our average daily sales were closing in on $10,000, even on days that we closed early, due to holidays and our Sunday hours. For eleven days.

We’re really glad you all like us so much.

We love you forever!

See you next time on 5 Things™.

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SANDWICH LAB: The Fish Schtick

IN THE DELICATESSEN SCENE, NEVER SHAKING UP YOUR SANDWICH MENU IS CONSIDERED ESPECIALLY HEINOUS. AT NORTHERN WATERS SMOKEHAUS, THE DEDICATED DELI EMPLOYEES WHO INNOVATE ON THE SANDWICH MENU ARE MEMBERS OF AN ELITE SQUAD KNOWN AS THE SANDWICH LAB. THESE ARE THEIR STORIES:


The Fish Schtick

Remember fish sticks? Breaded some-kind-of-whitefish, fried, frozen, reheated (perhaps in a microwave, or for the more patient among us, in the oven) and dipped in tartar sauce. Simple, delicious, nostalgic.

I sure do. I ate so many of those things in my youth that I had to take an extended break from fish.

Now imagine that experience, but more sophisticated, and with 100-percent less burnout. That’s what we’re channeling with The Fish Schtick.

Mayonnaise, lemon pepper, tomato, cornichon pickles, and lettuce on a Haus ciabatta roll form the flavor-framework of this sandwich, and our brown sugar-brined and perfectly-smoked Traditional Atlantic Salmon fills out the body.

It’s not deep-fried and it doesn’t come from a bag in your freezer, but it still hits like a blast from the past, and that’s the way Harrison (the sandwich’s inventor) planned it.

Beginning on Wednesday, July 3rd and running through Monday, August 5th, the Fish Schtick will be available for your consumption, and I strongly recommend you jump on this opportunity. Not only is this sandwich surprisingly delicious, but each one earns you two stamps on your loyalty card.


WHAT IS SANDWICH LAB?
AT NORTHERN WATERS SMOKEHAUS, OUR WORK IS PLAYING WITH FOOD. THAT MEANS SOMETIMES, IN THE LINE OF DUTY, WE STUMBLE UPON AN AMAZING COMBINATION OF INGREDIENTS THAT EVOLVES OVER SEVERAL SHIFT-MEALS INTO A NOTEWORTHY NEW SANDWICH. OTHER TIMES WE UNCOVER A MORE EFFICIENT WAY TO BUILD A SANDWICH, OR WE SWAP AN INGREDIENT ON A CURRENT MENU ITEM. SANDWICH LAB IS AN ANNUAL GATHERING OF OUR STAFF TO REFINE OUR SANDWICH-LINE SKILLS, TO COME TO AGREEMENT ON ANY CONTROVERSIES, AND—THE BEST PART—TO INTRODUCE OUR PET SANDWICHES TO THE GREATER SMOKEHAUS COMMUNITY.
NOTABLE SANDWICH LAB FINDINGS FROM PREVIOUS YEARS INCLUDE THE CEDARS’S SECRET, THE PURPLE RANGE, THE PHOEBE, AND THE PORK LION. LAST YEAR’S SANDWICH LAB HAD SO MANY GOOD SANDWICHES THAT WE COULDN’T DECIDE ON JUST ONE OR TWO TO ADD TO THE MENU, SO WE DECIDED TO GIVE THEM ALL A CHANCE TO SHINE, AS MONTH-LONG SPECIALS.
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5 Things: June 14th, 2019

A lot of Things™ happened this week at NWS. Here’s a handful of them.

Wine joined our beverage list.

We’re officially selling beer and wine in our deli. This is huge news for us, as people love to have a beer or a glass of wine—which we’ll be selling by the glass, or by the bottle with the option of corking it to-go—with a meal.

As soon as we received our buyer’s license, we had pallets of beer from our neighbors at Hoops at our door, ready to sell. Our other vendors quickly followed suit, and we were fully-stocked on beer by the evening.

The wine orders operate on a different schedule, so we went through the weekend without it, but as of yesterday, our wine selection has arrived.

Thought about describing our wines to you, but whoops!, I have not tried them & TK already knocked this one out of the park.

Each of our options falls into the category natural wines, or wines farmed organically and made without adding or removing anything during the fermentation . Like the production of our salumi, this is an ancient tradition. While I haven’t yet had a chance to try our wine selection (it’s only been a day—chill), TK has assured us each of them has something special to offer, and will pair well with just about any item on our menu.

The Spring Roll joined our sandwich menu.

Composed of smoked teriyaki tofu, cabbage, cucumber, pickled vegetables, lettuce, Marcona almonds, basil, cilantro, sriracha and sesame oil with rice vinegar all wrapped up in a naan (or on a hero roll, if you’re ISO a vegan option), this sandwich tickles the tongue, and is taking over a menu slot for The Tempest.

Patricia, who comes in at 5 a.m. to bake cookies and pasties before working in the deli, is an absolutely unstoppable force of creativity with food. Within weeks of her tenure at NWS, she already had folks abuzz about the prototype to this sandwich. Just a few short months later, it has arrived on the sandwich board. At the time, we were making variants with pork loin, gravlax, tofu and even skipping the prepped protein altogether—all of which had their strengths, and are available as substitutions for essential carnivores—but we’ve landed on tofu.

One final note on the Spring Roll: Unlike most of our sandwiches—which are best consumed immediately, or at least within the day if you—there is a strong undercurrent amongst our staff that the sandwich is best eaten after a short wait, or even chilled.

I usually can’t wait that long, but it is worth noting: this is a great picnic sandwich, for that reason.

Michael left for Bonnaroo.

Our co-worker Michael—who typically arrives at work with a ukulele in his hands and a song in his heart—left Tuesday to make his way to Tennessee for Bonnaroo Music Festival.

In addition to catching not one, but two Phish sets, he’s also decided he wants to be the Duluth, MN Bonnaroo Street Team. It sounds a lot more labor intensive than it actually is—he’s just taking a selection from several local breweries, and some NWS “buddies” & swag to the annual Craft Beer Exchange—but it is still awesome that he’s chosen to represent our city.

While I doubt most or any of our readership is currently in Great Stage Park, TN, at the festival, or reading this post in time if they are, check our Instagram later today to see how NWS’s first trip to Bonnaroo is going.

Final round of interviews for our Mail Order director position.

If you didn’t know that we’ve been operating sans-Mail Order Director for an undisclosed temporal span, that’s a good thing and doesn’t surprise me. Our team has a knack for filling-in the cracks when they appear. The marketing & media team have taken over the mail order phone calls, an we needed only list the job internally to find a handful of candidates.

The interview process came to a close this week, and next week, we should have a new director in-place. We’re only six months out from the wild, wild West that is late-November through the end of the year in mail order, so they’ll have a lot on their plate to manage in a short span of time.

Thank you for your patience in the meantime. Our mail order clientele are awesome, and a fundamental aspect of our success as a business, so not having someone specifically in-place to handle that job is not a state in which we ever hope to stay for long.

They asked me if I wanted to lead another scavenger hunt.

This was basically my reaction, I think, though I don’t know the context of this .gif.

Last July, we hid twenty sandwiches-worth of magnets around town in honor of our Twentieth Anniversary. With the exception of a few very thoughtful responses I received, the campaign went over well.

This year, we’ll be doing things a little bit differently. The stakes will be higher, it’s going to be more challenging, and it’s going to happen slightly later in the Summer (personal reasons, don’t worry about it), but believe me when I say I’m very excited to get any willing participants into the outdoors, getting their hands dirty—maybe literally—in pursuit of free NWS grub & swag.

Stay tuned for details in the very near future. Until next time, I am Ned, and these have been five things that happened this week at NWS.